Both women and men participate in the use, management, benefit sharing, and decisions related to water, but with different concerns, needs and responsibilities, and unequal access to and control over water resources. Women are active managers of water for household and productive use, particularly for agriculture. However, their participation in decision-making and advancement as professionals in the water sector and in decision-making processes remain minimal. Today, women hold less than six per cent of all federal ministerial positions in the fields of environment, natural resources, and energy in Pakistan.
A typical day of a woman living in rural Pakistan1 involves active participation in agriculture – a sector that uses 90% of the freshwater available in Pakistan1. In addition to working in the field, women are also responsible for daily household activities – cleaning, cooking, and collecting water from far-off places. The unavailability of water near their homes adds to the women’s responsibilities, which is the case for many in rural parts of Gilgit-Baltistan, Balochistan and Sindh provinces, where they are often required to travel on foot, as far as four kilometres every day, to fetch water.
As “unofficial water managers”, women also face concerns about saving water, and using it for domestic consumption as well as sanitary and agricultural purposes2. There is a need to address the gap between women and men in terms of ownership, access to and control over water resources, and ensure representation of women in decision-making roles in the water sector. In addition to low levels of women’s participation in decision-making on water and food management, women are not sufficiently prioritized in water policies, programmes and infrastructure development. Encouraging meaningful participation of women at all levels in the professional water sector is crucial to ensure that decisions on water, as a fundamental right, are made by all those involved.
World Water Day is celebrated on 22 March every year to raise awareness about emerging water stressors and opportunities for conservation and sustainable use of water. In line with this year’s theme, “Valuing water”, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) organized an international webinar on 26 March 2021 with experts from the Gender Resource Group (GRG) to focus attention on women’s participation and involvement in water-related development efforts and leadership in the water sector.
- Highlight women’s resilience in situations of water scarcity in the HKH region
- Discuss women’s leadership roles at various decision-making levels and ensure equitable access to land and water rights for productive use
|Kanwal Waqar, ICIMOD
|Basanta Shrestha, Director, Strategic Cooperation, ICIMOD
|Tahir Anwar, Director General, Water, Ministry of National Food Security and Research
|Background and objectives of webinar
|Kosar Bano, ICIMOD
Women’s resilience in water crises in the HKH region
Women as a leaders/custodians at the water table
Legal rights of women in access to water resources
Voices from grassroots of Gilgit Baltistan on water issues and prospective opportunities
Gender inclusion in climate change policies
|Facilitated by: Kanwal Waqar/Kosar Bano
Chanda Gurung Goodrich, ICIMOD
Simi Kamal, Hisaar Foundation
Ammara Farooq Malik, Seplaa Foundation
Mehnaz Parveen, KADO
Syeda Hadika Jamshaid, Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC)